The difficulty of winning the Daytona 500


On Sunday, the NASCAR season gets underway with the great American race, the Daytona 500. Drivers say the first rule at Daytona is to simply make it to the finish line. On Friday, 32 trucks began the season opening race at Daytona, but only 9 of them made it to the finish line. The track can be brutal and the Daytona 500 is no different.

“There’s a lot of luck involved too,” NASCAR driver Aric Almirola explained. “You can have a fast car. You can do everything right and get caught up in a wreck.”

Almirola knows all about hard luck in the Daytona 500. He was the leader on the final lap of last year’s race before a bump from eventual race winner Austin Dillon  

“You know, it’s tough to win the Daytona 500,” Almirola said. “There’s a lot of great race car drivers that have never won that race.”

Why is winning the race such a huge achievement? It’s because there are so many ways to lose. Pick the wrong line to draft? You fall behind. Drive too long on tires on the hot surface makes you lose control. There’s also the simple bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“When you think of Sunday, it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be 80,” 2015 Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano said. “The sun is going to be out. That’s the big thing, and the track is going to be slicker. So a car’s handling will come into play a little bit more. You never know you’ve got it until you get there and anything can happen.“

They call the race the “Big One” in Daytona. Last week, Jimmie Johnson made a move in the Cup the Clash race that wiped out nearly every car. He also won the race.

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